Chaplains for Staff – Publications – Wellness – Chaplains for Staff
Please appoint a volunteer chaplain who solely supports your staff!

Background: In 2018, Cook County’s DOC in Chicago began its first, roving, volunteer chaplain just for staff. Staff had no chaplain; such support was solely or predominantly for detainees.

It took only 10 weeks to create and launch this chaplaincy-for-staff, which has steadily grown.
Its speedy creation was due to appointing a volunteer chaplain – eliminating any budget process.
This 6-part Guide explains why staff should have their own chaplain, and simple steps to do so.
In summary:
  • Few jails have chaplains solely for staff. Even fewer rove tier to tier, to connect with all staff.
  • When distressed about family, health, or other issues, staff typically don’t seek help; they just try to get through their shift. If a chaplain waits to be called, such needs go unaddressed. But a roving, volunteer chaplain can encounter the hurting, offer a confidential ear, and give heart-felt support!
  • Start with Part 1 (“SELLING THE CONCEPT…”), to your leadership, providing the two American Jails articles on why and how to have such chaplains; suggest it be tested. Then, after approval:
  • Follow Parts 2 – 6. These detail how to find, select, launch, and support a roving, volunteer chaplain-just-for-staff. As each jail is unique, modify the steps/templates to reflect your agency’s requirements.
Please contact me if you have a question, suggested improvement for this Guide, and/or to share your agency’s innovations or best practices. I’d love to learn about and share various approaches with other jails.

Sincere thanks to you and your agency’s hard-working staff, for faithfully persevering in providing incredible law enforcement services in a field and environment that few can imagine – let alone do.

God has given correctional staff amazing hearts and strength, as they represent His authority and order, in a world of chaos; yet you each deserve support, too. I pray that this 6-part Guide will help to facilitate a chaplaincy resource in each jail -- to encourage, heal, appreciate, and uplift you many “hidden heroes,” who serve unseen, behind walls.
Part 1. Selling Admin on the Concept of a Chaplain for Staff
   1a. Article - Why have Chaplains for Staff
   1b. Article - How to have a Chaplain for Staff
Part 2. Find Chaplain Candidates
    2a. Article to give a possible Chaplain to read
    2b. Position Description - Template
    2c. Application Form - Template
    2d. Interview Questions - Template
Part 3. Select a Chaplain
Part 4. Launch Your Chaplaincy
Part 5. Tips and Resources for the Chaplain
Part 6.  Maintain and Grow Your Chaplaincy

 Linda Ahrens, AJA Chaplain